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Planning the Gunpowder Plot

Gunpowder Plot conspirators

The five initial members of the Gunpowder plot were: Robert Catesby (the leader), Thomas Wintour (his cousin), John Wright (his friend), Thomas Percy (Wright’s brother-in-law) and Guido (Guy) Fawkes (an explosives expert).

On 9th June 1604, the Earl of Northumberland appointed Thomas Percy as one of 50 horse-mounted bodyguards to the king. This gave Thomas Percy a reason to seek a home in London and he chose a small property close to the Houses of Parliament.

Guy Fawkes took on the name John Johnson and posed as Percy’s servant. He took charge of the plan to build a tunnel under the Houses of Parliament, with digging starting in December 1604.

House of lords and princes chamber

Robert Catesby’s house in Lambeth (a district of London) was used to store the gunpowder and other supplies. 

Extra men were soon sworn into the plot to assist with the tunnelling. These were: Thomas Bates (Catesby’s servant), Robert Wintour (Thomas Wintour’s brother), Christopher Wright (John Wright’s brother) and John Grant.

As the men were digging beneath the Houses of Parliament, they heard noises above them and became worried that they had been discovered. It turned out that the noises were just caused by a coal merchant clearing out his rented space. The plotters took advantage of this opportunity and rented the room for themselves – this meant that the tunnel was no longer needed.

Gunpowder plot parliament cellar

By 20th July 1605, they had moved 36 barrels of gunpowder into this cellar.

When the plotters began to get worried about the uprising which would follow after the explosion, John Grant therefore began to collect gunpowder and weapons at his home at Norbrook House in Surrey and two more men – Francis Tresham and Sir Everard Digby – were recruited to help prepare for this uprising. The horse-breeder Ambrose Rockwood also joined the group.